Monthly Archives:September 2019


It was a day for legends of the Bathurst 1000. As a host of former greats looked on, Jamie Whincup joined them in the pantheon of Bathurst heroes with his fourth victory in the Great Race in just seven years.

Too add to the historic lustre of his win, Whincup did it in another legendary finish, holding off young charger David Reynolds in a tense nose-to-tail duel over the final 12 laps.

If last year’s late-race battle between Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes was thrilling, yesterday’s fight to the finish was enthralling – and almost as close.

Tander beat Lowndes in 2011 by just 0.29 seconds – the closest competitive finish in Bathurst 1000 history – and Whincup took the chequered flag ahead of Reynolds by a mere 0.31 seconds.

In a classic Holden versus Ford shootout, the knife-edge battle between the day’s fastest representatives of the Red and the Blue sides was the fitting end of an era.

It was the last Bathurst 1000 restricted to Commodores and Falcons before V8 Supercars is opened up in 2013 to other makes for the first time in almost two decades.

Yesterday’s race was a glimpse of the future of the new generation of dominant V8 drivers, with Whincup’s fourth triumph raising his already lofty status even further and Reynolds’s dogged pursuit confirming his arrival as an emerging star.

At 29, Whincup is already well on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats of Australian touring car racing with three V8 championships in the past four years and, after this latest Bathurst success, well on his way to capturing this year’s crown.

By winning another Bathurst 1000, he is elevated to an elite who have conquered the mountain marathon more than three times, joining Allan Moffat and Greg Murphy on the Peter Brock Trophy four times. The only drivers to have won more are Lowndes (5), Larry Perkins and Mark Skaife (6), Jim Richards (7) and Brock (9).

Whincup has many more years to build up his legacy.

As he crafted his narrow yet also commanding win, many Bathurst legends were at the track as VIP guests, invited as part of the week-long celebrations of 50 years of touring car endurance races at Mount Panorama.

At times, it was impossible to move through the area behind the garages without running into a luminary driver whose fame was enshrined by winning one or more Bathurst 500/1000s dating back to 1963.

Among them were Bob Jane, Harry Firth, Moffat, Dick Johnson, Richards, Perkins and Allan Grice, to name just some of the more colourful winners.

Lowndes, who is Whincup’s Triple Eight Holden teammate and now his closest rival in the V8 championship race, has no doubts that Whincup now ranks among the greats at Mount Panorama. ”I think so,” said Lowndes, whose late race charge from nowhere to third underlined his mastery of the mountain.

”There’s no doubt that he’s talented. Winning Bathurst is a team effort and the team came together today for the win. He’s a big part of that combination.”

Whincup, whose previous three wins from 2006-08 were as Lowndes’s junior co-driver, was ably supported by his new partner Paul Dumbrell, who retired from active V8 competition at the end of last season.

Together, they recovered from early tyre problems to work their way to the front, allowing Whincup to balance enough speed with conserving fuel to be in a position to keep Reynolds at bay despite relentless pressure.

It was another example of why he is the class of the V8 field, regularly recovering from setbacks to conjure triumphs from potential disasters.

He was humble in victory, demurring when the proposition of achieving Bathurst legend status was put to him.

”Hey, I’m not greedy,” he smiled. ”It’s the first time I’ve crossed the finish line as a Bathurst winner as opposed to watching Lowndesy do it when we won three in a row.

”I’m still only 29, so hopefully I’ve still got a few more years left in me to win some more Bathurst 1000s. Winning this race is life-changing. I’m sure once it sinks in, what winning this one means will hit me.

“But this must be right up there as the highlight of my career, no doubt.”

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Encouraging teachers to go west … NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.SCHOOL principals will start choosing one out of every two new staff members from today at the start of what Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, said will be a ”big” school term for public education.

”The most significant thing that happens on the first day of term is that principals can select every second member of their own staff,” Mr Piccoli said.

Half of a school’s staff will continue to be selected through the department of education’s incentive transfer system.

”We are making it more attractive for teachers to go west,” Mr Piccoli said. ”They will be given higher priority [in the transfer system].”

Also from today, 229 schools will start testing a new schools funding system in NSW. ”So, fourth term is a big term in public education,” Mr Piccoli said.

Mr Piccoli, who recently announced a $1.7 billion cut to the NSW education budget, said his department had reduced the cost of consultancies by two thirds this year, compared with last year. Together with a range of strategies, this will save $200 million in administration costs.

Professional teacher associations are expected to be recruited to help provide support for teachers to introduce the new national curriculum in 2014.

Mr Piccoli is expected to announce a strategy to provide the professional development later this week. ”I am very conscious of the need to support teachers in schools as we implement the national curriculum in 2014,” he said.

While the minister said he would try to keep budget cuts ”away from behind the school gate”, he said there would be fewer consultants available to help teachers develop curriculum materials.

”Where there were consultants that the school could ring, there will be fewer of those,” he said. ”There will still be 4900 people working in the bureaucracy instead of 5500.

”The person that you’ve usually called might not be there which means that you have to call someone else.”

Mr Piccoli said major productions such as the schools spectacular would continue despite cuts in arts funding.

Further decisions about how the department of education would absorb funding cuts would be clearer by the end of this year.

Following the disastrous start to the school year when 700 children with disabilities were left stranded waiting for school transport, Mr Piccoli said he was confident this would never happen again.

He said funding for the transport scheme would not be cut and had been boosted 50 per cent to deliver bus drivers higher payments.

Mr Piccoli said he was still confident the Gonski schools funding model could be implemented despite the cut in the NSW education budget.

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FOUR sisters at the centre of an international custody dispute are together in Italy but away from their father’s property after two of them tried to escape from his home.

Just a day after being taken to their father’s villa on the outskirts of Florence, the two older girls ran to the front gates when they saw media camped outside and pleaded for reporters to help them return to Australia.

The eldest girl was taken back inside by her father, while her sister clung to the gate as her grandmother urged her to return inside. She held onto the gate for an hour, during which local police and social workers arrived.

The Australian Family Court ordered the four sisters, aged between nine and 15, be sent to Italy after their mother brought them to Australia for a holiday in 2010 and they never returned.

As the girl clung to the gate during the stand-off on Saturday, her father became involved in a scuffle with the media.

The Herald has been sent photographs from a supporter of the father, one showing a man’s thumb bandaged and another showing a graze on his shin.

A post on Facebook claimed the father was ”attacked” by the media and that their presence had been ”particularly invasive”.

”The father and the family understand that it will require patience to re-establish the harmony the girls once experienced in Italy, and reverse the painful stresses they have endured in the last two years,” the post said.

The girl eventually agreed to return to the house but it is understood she and her older sister were moved to their uncle’s home.

The girls’ maternal grandmother said yesterday she had contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade while her granddaughter was at the gates, but was told consular officials could not intervene in court proceedings or private legal matters.

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WHAT did the adventurer Francis Birtles get in 1929 when he became the first person to drive 21,000 kilometres from London to Melbourne in his Bean Sundowner car?

He got a warning for obstructing traffic. ”He’d driven this amazing, phenomenal distance across the world,” said Birtles’s biographer, Warren Brown, a cartoonist and car enthusiast who has restored an identical four-cylinder Bean 14 horsepower car to the one driven by Birtles.

”When Birtles got to Melbourne, where there were tens of thousands of people waiting to see him, the coppers ran up and hopped on his car and said, ‘Move along, you are obstructing traffic’.”

They would not even allow a photo of Birtles and his battered Bean car, which he called the Sundowner, outside Melbourne’s GPO after the 9½ months’ journey.

Birtles had an Australian bushman’s spirit and confidence, setting off alone from London on a trip that many said couldn’t be done. Most people thought he was crazy, said Brown, who sees him as a brilliant but flawed explorer.

He was a man who nearly always had a mission, Brown said. In this case, he was hoping the Bean car would invigorate the British motor industry. It was this same fearlessness that led Birtles to traverse Australia more than 70 times by car and by bike.

”His true legacy was opening up the interior of Australia and demystifying it,” said Brown, whose biography of Birtles will be launched tomorrow.

Free tickets are available to a talk by Warren Brown on Birtles at the NSW State Library on October 18, 6pm to 7pm. Details:

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Accused of “grooming” Peter Slipper, not the other way around … James Ashby.THE man who introduced Peter Slipper to his former aide and accuser James Ashby was told by the stood-aside Speaker he believed he was being spied on.

The Herald has obtained 200 pages of court documents detailing every SMS sent between Mr Slipper and Mr Ashby, who is suing his former employer for sexual harassment over a nine-month period.

The text messages, which reveal a once close and ribald relationship between the politician and the former staffer, were filed by Mr Ashby’s legal team in the Federal Court on Friday but have not yet been made public.

Ryan Reynolds, who briefly worked in Mr Slipper’s office in 2011, took Mr Ashby with him to a cocktail function at Mr Slipper’s home in Buderim, on the Sunshine Coast, about the middle of last year, several months before the independent MP hired Mr Ashby as his media adviser in December.

The new evidence tendered to court by Mr Ashby’s defence team reveals that Mr Reynolds – Mr Ashby’s one-time school friend and former lover – visited Canberra in November last year and met Mr Slipper.

Mr Reynolds then advised Mr Ashby by text that Mr Slipper had asked him if he was gay and said he thought he was visiting him ”to spy on him” in order to feed information to the local media. Mr Slipper also inquired if he and Mr Ashby were ”still together”.

”Lol that’s Peter. He is very intrigued by the whole gay thing,” Mr Ashby replied in a text message after Mr Reynolds recounted the conversation. ”Wtf? That’s very bizarre to think about the spy thing!!!”

As part of his defence to Mr Ashby’s sexual harassment claim, Mr Slipper told the court last week that he believed Mr Ashby ”was placed” in his office or ”contrived a situation where he was able to come to my office” as part of an elaborate political conspiracy driven by the Liberal National Party as payback because he left the LNP to accept the Speaker’s position.

But Mr Ashby’s barrister, Michael Lee, SC, tendered to court 200 pages of documents as part of his client’s defence against claims by Mr Slipper that the aide was ”grooming” the Speaker, not the other way around.

The 200 pages of new evidence also reveal Mr Slipper asked his aide in December, ”Want to go to kings cross/taylor sq in syd?”

Mr Ashby told a friend he had been advised against taking the position in the Speaker’s office by the wife of Queensland cabinet minister Mark McArdle, Judy McArdle, who had worked in Mr Slipper’s office. In October last year, Mr Ashby suggested Mr Slipper aim for the speakership.

Mr Slipper appeared surprised at the suggestion, sending Mr Ashby a SMS that read: ”Range of options open … Where did you get the idea I could become Speaker?”

The documents also reveal Mr Slipper distrusted deeply the local media in his electorate as he believed his LNP rivals – including Mal Brough, who is the party’s preselected candidate in Mr Slipper’s seat of Fisher – were involved in a campaign to smear him.

The affidavit includes every text message – notated with the words ”read” or ”sent” accompanied by explanatory remarks by Mr Ashby’s legal team.

The hearing continues.

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